Cardinals coach Bruce Arians accepts his Coach of the Year award at the NFL Honors show Saturday night.
He had just won another Coach of the Year award – his second in three years – but Bruce Arians was already making big predictions about next season.
Asked what he planned to be doing a year from now – when the Super Bowl will be played in the 49ers' home of Levi's Stadium – Arians quickly said, "Playing."
"We're dressing in their locker room," a smiling Arians said, turning around his season-long mantra of 2014. "We can write it down today."
Saturday's award was expected, after Arians had been named Coach of the Year by nearly every other outlet that
named one. His award in 2012 came as interim boss of the Indianapolis Colts – an award he later accepted after the Cardinals had hired him as their new coach.
The Cardinals started the season 9-1 this season and spent much of the year as the NFC's top team. Even with serious injuries -- including having starting quarterback Carson Palmer for just six games (Palmer won all six) and then losing backup Drew Stanton as well – the Cards still went 11-5 and made the postseason.
Arians thanked team president Michael Bidwill and General Manager Steve Keim – with all the injuries, "we had to have somebody that was giving us players." Arians also called Keim "the best in the business that I've ever been around," a significant compliment given the fact another GM Arians worked with, Bill Polian, had just been named to the 2015 Hall of Fame class.
Arians also praised his coaching staff and, of course, his players who managed to maneuver through key injuries and a Daryl Washington suspension that undercut the Cardinals far beyond the quarterback position.
"They were able to be resilient," Arians said. "Every injury that occurred, they were able to look at it as the next man's opportunity. That really makes my job extremely easy."
Arians added later that the coaching "starts with a true belief, that this is the process. You can never allow anything to be an excuse."
It worked for the Cardinals, who won more than their share of close games in 2014 as they made key plays in the fourth quarter of multiple games.
"To be able to do what he was able to accomplish this year with so many different lineups, so many changes, is really a true testament to him, his staff and the way he put this team together," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.
Arians' record as head coach of the Colts for 12 of the 16 games in 2012 was 9-3, posted as regular head coach Chuck Pagano was sidelined while battling leukemia. The Colts made the playoffs.
Arians called that year in Indianapolis "magical," but said it was this year's award that means more to him.
"This was one where you never got bored," Arians said with a chuckle. "You had to come to work every Monday and start all over again."
With a 10-6 season in Arians' first year in Arizona, he joined Don Coryell as the only coaches in franchise history to post back-to-back 10-win seasons. Arians has more wins in his first 32 games as coach than anyone in franchise history.
The Cardinals are 13-3 in home games in Arians' two seasons, including a 7-1 record in 2014.
Arians is the 11th coach in NFL history to win Coach of the Year more than once. He is one of only six coaches to win the award with different teams.
If he manages to indeed guide the Cardinals to Levi's Stadium in late January next season, he'll be in line to win it again.
"I took all those names off the IR and put them back on the depth chart," Arians said. "I quit saying 'What if' and start saying 'What can it be next year.' I can't wait until next year."